Mafia Island

Pole Pole Mafia Island

150 km south of Zanzibar Island lies the third largest isle in the archipelago, Mafia. In fact, Mafia Island is so far removed and has so many smaller satellites of its own, that it’s really a miniature archipelago in its own right. Rarely visited, and much quieter even than Pemba, Mafia and its surrounding islands are a diver’s paradise. Huge groupers, rays, turtles and whale sharks all frequent its warm, clear waters and Chole Bay is perhaps the best coral garden in East Africa. Accommodation around Mafia tends to be intimate and upmarket, and for the ultimate in exclusivity, stunning private island lodges are also available.

Highlights

A diver’s paradise: If you have any love for diving, then a pilgrimage to Mafia must be on your bucket list. From Chole Bay’s extraordinary coral and fabulously colourful schools of reef fish, to the deeper waters where rays and whale fish roam; Mafia’s archipelago has something for every experience level, but the real wonder is that you’ll probably have it all to yourself!

Witness hatching turtles: Juani Island, just off the coast of Mafia, is a truly special place to see tiny green and hawksbill turtles dash for the sea. Environmentally sensitive tours can be arranged between June and September, run by an enthusiastic NGO that’s playing a significant role in local turtle conservation.

Turtles steal the show on Mafia Island

Travel tips

Although local dhows run to the mainland, the only practical way to get to Mafia is to fly. Scheduled and charter flights run regularly from Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar Island and you should expect to pay around $250 to $350 return. If you’re going for diving, then pick your month carefully. Chole Bay can be dived year-round, but the deeper channels are only viable from August to November. October to February has the best visibility, although it’s rarely below 15m at any time of year. For the best beach conditions aim for late May to the start of the short rainy season in November. September to early March is prime whale shark season so it’s really only mid-March to mid-May that should be avoided completely, when the island receives most of its rain.


Our Recommended Itinerary

The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 1

Nairobi, your arrival
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 2

Early flight into Amboseli
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 3

Amboseli elephant and views of Kilimanjaro
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 4

Into the Masai Mara
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 5

The Mara confluence and paradise plains
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 6

Find the migration

Jun

Jul

Western corridor and Grumeti River

Jul

Oct

Kogatende and the Mara River


day 7

and stay with them

Jun

Jul

Western corridor and Grumeti River

Jul

Oct

Kogatende and the Mara River


day 8

Dunia's big cats
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 9

Make sure you find leopard
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 10

Hot air ballooning and your flight to Rwanda
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 11

Genocide memorial and onwards to Volcanoes
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 12

Your time with the Gorillas
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 13

Fly home

View Full Itinerary

Popular Zanzibar Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

Sea view | Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)

Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)

This island getaway to Mafia, Pemba and Zanzibar is ideal for honeymoon couples or anyone looking for white beaches and lots of diving, snorkeling and other ocean activities...

 | Tropical Zanzibar Island Escape (8 days)

Tropical Zanzibar Island Escape (8 days)

Your dream beach holiday awaits. Explore the coastline of Zanzibar's famed Kendwa beach paradise on this ultra-luxe tour...

 | Wildebeest Migration, Ngorongoro & Zanzibar Journey (12 days)

Wildebeest Migration, Ngorongoro & Zanzibar Journey (12 days)

This blockbuster Tanzania safari will show you the best of the country's outstanding wildlife and the beach paradise of Zanzibar...

 | Tanzania couples safari

Tanzania couples safari

Enjoy the wildlife of Tanzania as well as the paradise of Zanzibar...



You might also like

Zanzibar in January

January marks the start of the short dry season in Zanzibar, a period of relatively hot, humid weather that builds gradually from late December and runs through to the beginning of March. Average temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year, but January is one of the hotter months, with daytime highs regularly up to 35°C (95°F). Although generally sunny, there may still be…

Zanzibar in May

Credit: Matemwe Lodge Early May sees heavy rain throughout the Zanzibar archipelago, but by the end of the month conditions usually improve. Afternoon showers become shorter and lighter, and more consecutive sunny days fall in between. As the skies clear, the seasonal ‘kusi’ wind freshens from the south, a steady, building breeze that can hit 20 to 30 km/h (11-17 knots). With the…

Zanzibar in October

October is usually an idyllic time on Zanzibar, with light southerly breezes, clear skies and calm seas. As the month progresses, the heat gradually builds, and daytime highs regularly top 30°C (86°F). Nights are also warmer (over 20°C / 68°F) and get increasingly humid as the brief November monsoon draws near. The monsoon’s exact arrival varies unpredictably each year and some…

Zanzibar in June

June marks the start of Zanzibar’s long dry season, and June itself is often the sunniest, driest month of the year. Daytime temperatures are warm, averaging around 28°C (82°F), with pleasant nights (c. 20°C / 68°F) and generally low humidity. By the middle of June, the southern ‘kusi’ wind is in full flow, a fresh, steady breeze that can blow hard up the eastern coasts. Wind…

Pingwe, Dongwe & The Michamvi Peninsula

The Michamvi Peninsula just north from Chwaka Bay, a narrow, thumb-like headland that boasts some of Zanzibar Island’s most exclusive hotels and resorts. The north-western tip has the added advantage of being the only true sundowner spot along the east coast, with a kilometre and a half of pristine west-facing beachfront and magnificent views across Chwaka Bay. Most of the…

Zanzibar in July

July is generally dry and warm across Zanzibar, with daytime temperatures averaging around 28°C (82°F). This is about as cool as the islands get throughout the year, but even so the nights rarely dip below 18°C (64°F). The surrounding seas are also at their coldest in July and August, but sea temperatures of 25°C (77°F) are still the norm and the shallow lagoons often feel even…

Highlights of Zanzibar

It’s impossible to soak in everything Zanzibar has to offer without maxing out your visa and staying the full three months. The main Zanzibar Island itself is already more than can be explored on the average summer holiday, and Pemba and Mafia are wonderful destinations in their own right. With its superb diving, myriad islands and inlets, rich cultural history, delicious seafood and…

Natural attractions of Zanzibar

Zanzibar’s islands have been inhabited for many hundreds of years and although ancient records refer to imported elephants and other iconic species, you won’t find any of Africa’s major land mammals here today. For the best chance of seeing Zanzibar’s smaller, rarer and in some cases, endemic species, head to Jozani Forest Reserve just south of Zanzibar Town or Ngezi Forest…

Ready to start your adventure?

+27 (0)21 422 3498
   discover.africa
    info@discoverafrica.com
    Mon - Fri: 8AM - 9PM GMT+2